Business Travel News 7/18/2019
Corporate travel buyers often underestimate how important convenience, personalization and amenities are to their travelers when shopping for and booking hotels, according to a new study from the Global Business Travel Association and HRS.
The research was based on online surveys from March to May 2019 of more than 600 global travel buyers and procurement executives, along with nearly 2,500 employees who had traveled for business at least three times during the preceding year.
While the study identifies factors like proximity to work location and price as key for both contingents, other characteristics are significantly more important to travelers than buyers. Proximity to restaurants and entertainment, for instance, is "very" or "somewhat" important to 84 percent of travelers, compared with just 68 percent of buyers. Positive traveler reviews also garner more weight from travelers than buyers, at 84 percent compared with 68 percent. Loyalty program benefits have a smaller but still significant imbalance, with 70 percent of travelers and 64 percent of buyers valuing that aspect of a hotel option.
The booking process also presents divergent results. Half of travelers want their online booking tool to offer more hotels that have amenities, whereas only 19 percent of travel buyers identify that as a need. Further, 74 percent of travelers value personalized options around upgrades and add-ons during the booking process, compared with just 62 percent of travel buyers.
One reason for the disconnect between what buyers and travelers respectively value is that employees "view business travel as an experience and they want their hotel options to reflect that," said GBTA research analyst Hannah Jaffee. Buyers can leverage the premium that travelers place on experience to drive increased hotel adoption by accounting, in contract negotiations with suppliers, for the factors on which travelers place premiums, Jaffee noted.
Another way to increase booking with preferred vendors or channels is to enable direct or central payment options. Just 30 percent of travelers typically pay for hotel rooms and incidentals through central or direct payments, the survey indicated. However, 88 percent said that if their companies offered central or direct payment with a hotel, they would book that property over one that didn't enable such payment methods.
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